TG1700 : England's smallest nature reserve

taken 2 months ago, near to Bracon Ash, Norfolk, Great Britain

England's smallest nature reserve
England's smallest nature reserve
The reserve, which is 0.025 hectares small, protects the ancient hawthorn contained within the surrounding fence, the Hethel Old Thorn > LinkExternal link. An information board informs: "This unique nature reserve was given to the Norfolk Naturalists Trust in 1960 by the late Mr. F.W. Myhill. It consists of a single hawthorn and in total covers only 0.025 hectares. Local tradition maintains that the thorn was a meeting place for peasants during the revolt against King John and this means that it is at least 700 years old. The thorn has always been famous for its size. When Grigor examined it in 1841 he found the trunk measured a staggering 12 ft 1 inch in circumference with the branches spreading over 31 yards. This is beautifully covered in Ninham's etching done at around the same time ... Since Ninham's etching the thorn has split into separate but living portions. Management is aimed at keeping the oak props and cattle fence in good order."

Hawthorn trees (Crataegus monogyna) can grow 15m high and are characterised by their dense, thorny habit and commonly found growing in hedgerows, woods and scrub. The bark is brown-grey, knotted and fissured, and twigs are slender and brown and covered in thorns. Hawthorn is also known as the May-tree, due to its flowering period, and is the only British plant named after the month in which it blooms.

Common hawthorn is the foodplant for the caterpillars of many moths, including the hawthorn, orchard ermine, pear leaf blister, rhomboid tortrix, light emerald, lackey, vapourer, fruitlet mining tortrix, small eggar and lappet moths. Its flowers are eaten by dormice and provide nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects. The haws > LinkExternal link are rich in antioxidants and are eaten by many migrating birds such as redwings, fieldfares and thrushes, as well as small mammals. The dense thorny foliage makes excellent nesting shelter for many species of bird.

In Britain, it was believed that bringing hawthorn blossom into the house would be followed by illness and death, and in Medieval times it was said that hawthorn blossom smelled like the Great Plague. Botanists later learned that the chemical trimethylamine in hawthorn blossom is also one of the first chemicals formed in decaying animal tissue, so it is not surprising that hawthorn flowers are associated with death.
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TG1700, 81 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
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Image Type ?
type:geograph 
Date Taken
Sunday, 14 May, 2017   (more nearby)
Submitted
Sunday, 14 May, 2017
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Educational sites  Wild Animals, Plants and Mushrooms 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 1710 0050 [10m precision]
WGS84: 52:33.5402N 1:12.0806E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 1703 0038
View Direction
North-northeast (about 22 degrees)
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